Free recording software has empowered countless musicians to start their creative journey.
It’s possible because tools that would once have cost thousands are now completely free.
The best part? Many of these free music programs work just as well as the expensive paid alternatives.
In this article I’ll go over the all best free music creation tools to start making music without paying a dime.
Let’s get started
What do I need to record for free?
Getting started with making music at home means building your home studio. A full music setup includes both hardware and software.
Assembling all that gear may seem intimidating. Just remember you can always go at your own pace and add only the items that make sense for your workflow.
If you need help with the other gear often found in home studio rigs, check out our guide to building your own.
When it comes to the programs you’ll use to record and mix your music, free software is the best way to dive in with the lowest investment upfront.
But to get the best results you’ll need a few different types of programs. I’ll break down each type, explain what they are and provide a resource for choosing the right option.
1. Free DAWs
Your DAW is the centrepiece of your home studio. It stands for Digital Audio Workstation.
The DAW is the main program you’ll use to record, edit and mix your music. It creates the audio files that make up your tracks and organizes them into sessions.
Your DAW contains the mixer that you’ll use to insert effects and balance the levels and panning of each sound in your song.
With all those essential functions, your DAW is the most important element in your setup.
Finding a completely free DAW that can handle all aspects of pro music production isn’t easy.
Luckily, many respected manufacturers publish a free edition of their flagship app for users who want to get started without spending a fortune.
And if you only need a few essential features like basic audio recording there are plenty of effective options to look at.
Check out our guide to the best Free DAWs you can download right now.
2. Free Audio Effects
Audio effects are the next stop on the list of essential music software.
Once you’ve recorded music into your DAW you’ll need to blend your tracks together so they all can be heard at once.
This process is called mixing and it's one of the most exciting parts of recording music.
Mixing is done by adjusting the level and pan position of each track, but audio effects are also essential.
Audio effects manipulate the basic sound of your tracks. There are too many different types to get into here, but check out our guide for a basic overview.
Your DAW probably comes with some perfectly usable effects, but many musicians prefer to develop their own personalized collection to help define their sound.
Luckily, free plugin effects are everywhere online. In fact, there’s so many that choosing the top picks can be time consuming.
That’s why we’ve created the perfect collections of VST plugins for every possible mix situation.
Whether you’re looking to create soaring studio quality vocals or dancefloor-ready beats, this free recording software will help get you started.
3. Free Virtual Instruments
Recording is the main function of a DAW, but you don’t need instruments and microphones to make music if you don’t want to use them.
In fact, you can use virtual instruments to create almost every element of a pro quality song.
Virtual instruments come in plugin format just like the audio effects I talked about before.
You simply download them, add them to your DAW’s plugin folder and start experimenting with sound design.
Some are made to imitate real instruments like drums or piano. Others are used to synthesize sound from scratch.
Whatever kind of tone you’re looking for there’s a free virtual instrument to help you make it your DAW
4. Free Samples
Samples are another way to make music without recording with a microphone.
Samples are short snippets of audio.They can be anything from single drum hits to entire tracks.
Using samples is an especially fun and immediate way to make music. But where your samples come from matters.
Unfortunately, you can’t sample copyrighted material without getting legal permission.
But there are plenty of free samples out there that you can use without fear of copyright infringement.
These are royalty-free sample packs that are created by artists and musicians to be perfect for building tracks.
Here’s a few of the best ones:
5. Free Music Tools
There’s more to making music than just the free recording software that lives in your DAW.
Free music resources can come in all different forms, and many of them are essential.
On this section of the list you’ll find useful like ear trainers, collaboration tools and songwriter aids.
These are the helpful side tools that can get you out of creative ruts, help you develop your skills and make it easier to work together.
Free is the best price
Getting started with music shouldn’t have a high cost. Free recording software proves that.
The digital tools that modern producers use to create their tracks can be expensive, but there are excellent free alternatives if you know where to look.
Now that you know the best free resources to make digital music, get back to your session and keep creating your sound.